Kin of Sinai suspects hold protests

Hundreds of men and women clashed with security forces in Egypt on Friday while protesting against the mass detention and alleged torture of their relatives suspected in last year's Sinai resort bombings.

    Authorities are silent on how many are actually detained

    About 500 protesters demonstrated after Friday prayers outside the al-Rifai mosque, one of the main mosques in the north Sinai town of al-Arish, shouting: "Freedom, freedom."
     
    A large force of riot police dispersed the protesters, beating some with electric prods and batons. Police officials said 10 of the protesters were detained.

    While men were dispersed, at least 200 women remained at the scene, screaming: "We want our children" and: "The Jews were better than you" - referring to the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula after the 1967 war.
     
    According to the police, several protesters and four policemen were injured.

    It was the fourth straight Friday that men and women, mostly beduin, have held demonstrations after weekly prayers, protesting over the detention of relatives taken into custody after the 7 October hotel bombings in Taba and Ras Shitan that killed 34 people.

    Human rights groups claim Egyptian authorities have arrested about 2400 people in the wake of the bombings, considered the first significant terror attacks in the country since 1997. The Egyptian government has since released some detainees, but has never revealed how many people it has in custody.

    The hotel bombings in Taba and
    Ras Shitan killed 34 people

    Last month, Human Rights Watch had sharply criticised the government for refusing to release the detainees' names or tell relatives where they were being held and whether they had been charged. The rights organisation had also accused police of torturing some detainees.

    Egyptian authorities have cracked down on beduins living in the Sinai since the October attacks to try and find those responsible.

    Egyptian security forces also engaged in shoot outs with militants in the Sinai hills last month, killing three suspects. Authorities have said five others implicated in the bombings are in custody.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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